On today's BradCast: Are Democrats finally beginning to reconsider their incredibly ill-considered mandate to require remote voting for their 2020 Presidential caucuses via phone or Internet voting schemes? Our guest today says they may just be doing so! If so, that would be very good news and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to show follows below.]
But, first up today, speaking of "ill-considered", in an echo of his earlier posturing against North Korea, Donald Trump issued new militaristic threats and slapped new sanctions on Iran, including against its Supreme Leader, President, Foreign Minister and even the Islamic Nation's lead nuclear negotiator. The result is what Iranian officials describe as the "permanent closure" of diplomacy between the two countries. The new sanctions also resulted in the Iranian President mocking the measures as "outrageous and idiotic", "hilarious", "stupid and ugly", while charging the White House is suffering from a "mental illness".
Trump's new punitive measures come in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, which they say entered its air space last week. The U.S. denies the charge, insisting that its spy plane was in international airspace over the Straight of Hormuz. And all of it comes in the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 treaty between seven world powers that prevented Iran from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon.
But now, as the Administration penalizes Iranian leaders --- who, by all accounts, have fully complied with the strict terms of the landmark accord struck under Barack Obama's Administration --- Trump and his team can't seem to understand why Iran is not interested in negotiating with them. They have, however, threatened Iran if they renege on the terms of the deal that Trump pulled out of, as Iran has now announced they intend to do. Of course, the possibility of, once again, touching off WWIII comes with Trump's threat today of "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration" of Iran, just days after he reportedly cancelled a planned attack against them at the last minute last week.
All of which underscores the necessity of removing this dangerous menace from the White House, whether by impeachment or at the ballot box next year. Not that viewers of Fox "News", of course, have any idea of the facts behind these latest incidents, which all stem from Trump pulling out of the very good landmark agreement with Iran. In fact, even one of Fox' most beloved former reporters, "Campaign Carl" Cameron has now come out against the fake news channel's "partisan misinformation" in a video promoting his new news venture, Front Page Live, launched with progressives such as Joe Romm of Climate Progress.
As to removing the buffoonish, inept, unfit, dishonest Trump at the ballot box, that may not be as simple as it should be for Democrats, given both the proliferation of rightwing misinformation at Fox and other rightwing fake news outlets (such as the NY Post which removed its story on well-known magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's new allegations that Trump raped her in a department store dressing some years ago) and the extraordinary vulnerability of our nation's voting, registration, and tabulation systems. To that end, 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan for election reform today which calls for, among other things, a mandate to replace the nation's easily-manipulated, oft-failed computerized voting systems with ones that allow every American to cast their vote by the safest, most verifiable method possible: HAND-MARKED paper ballots. Her measure is not unlike some of the provisions in HR-1 as passed by Democrats in the House and the PAVE Act, introduced in upper chamber by Sen. Ron Wyden, where it remains, along with all such election security bills, blocked by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.
But, where Democrats --- some of them anyway --- are coming around to the understanding that every voter in America must be allowed to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, the Democratic National Committee seems less than clear on the need for verifiable, publicly-overseeable election results. To that end, as we warned on the program some months ago, the DNC, following the 2016 election disaster, issued a mandate for all state Dem parties which choose to hold Presidential caucuses in 2020, rather than statewide primaries, to include some form of "remote voting" for party members who cannot attend in person.
That Democratic Party mandate, as our guest today Voting Booth's STEVEN ROSENFELD reported when we spoke with him back in March, has resulted in party officials in early caucus states such as Iowa and Nevada, scrambling to find private vendors willing to provide "remote voting" services that employee phone or Internet voting schemes. Today, Rosenfeld reports on what we'll call a moderately encouraging follow-up, finding that DNC officials may now be reconsidering that, frankly, insane mandate for unverifiable off-site voting systems.
"The thing about caucuses --- these are not government-run elections," Rosenfeld explains. "So this is really, really critical, because this means that all of the cybersecurity efforts --- of which there have been tremendous efforts made since 2016 to deal with trying to tighten systems --- those have all been in government election systems. These [caucuses] are private elections. So what the state parties will do in the caucus states is they have to rent a voting system. These do not have to be certified voting systems." That, of course, is an invitation to even less secure systems than those which already plague American elections, not to mention that cybersecurity experts consider Internet Voting schemes to be the most vulnerable of all such systems.
"So they're talking to different vendors who run these different systems. It's either going to be like using a telephone, to punch a button in to choose a candidate, or using an app, or using some kind of webpage." Rosenfeld, whose recent reporting on this includes discussion with the co-chair of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee, says DNC officials plan to review state party plans this week, but may, in fact, not approve those plans after all.
Rosenfeld envisions a situation where, "in the first [Iowa] and third [Nevada] contests, the Democrats have a complete mess and Trump runs with it and yells and screams about 'stolen elections' all the way into the fall. The whole thing is just madness on top of madness."
Let's hope wiser heads prevail at the DNC, though I'm not holding my breath.
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with Vice President Mike Pence's embarrassing weekend appearance on CNN, in which he was unwilling to acknowledge his own administration's scientific warnings about the national security threat posed by our worsening climate emergency. Also on today's GNR, the Trump USDA is burying scientific reports on climate change, a deadly heat wave and acute water shortages are ravaging India, and --- with some good news --- G.E. has announced plans to shut down a natural gas power plant in California twenty years earlier than planned because renewable energy options are now both cheaper and cleaner!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)